Why Is Batman in The Flash Movie and More Trailer Questions Answered

The Flash movie dropped not one, but TWO spots full of footage...which leave more questions than answers. But we try to answer some of them, including what's the deal with Michael Keaton's Batman!

Michael Keaton as Batman in The Flash movie
Photo: Warner Bros/DC

The Flash movie…ah, what else is there to say after all this time? First announced before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was even released, a movie that became a hot potato of scripts and directors even before Ezra Miller became a media sensation for all the wrong reasons. A flick that boasts the impressive Andy Muschietti in the director’s chair with a script by Christina Hodson. A film that just released its first trailer mere weeks after Warner Bros. announced the new DCU plan from DC Studios, a plan which was studiously and diplomatically ambiguous about the status of Miller’s version of Barry Allen after this movie drops in June.

All we know is that at the press event where DC Studio heads James Gunn and Peter Safran announced that DCU slate, they said that The Flash “resets everything.” Gunn also praised this film as “one of the best superhero movies ever.” And the trailer? Well, both the trailer and the official synopsis of the movie are teasing a reset of some sort, even though the ‘verse that ol’ Barry is looking to restore appears to be the classic DCEU of Man of Steel and Ben Affleck as Batman fame.

Here’s the official synopsis:

“Worlds collide in The Flash when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in
order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no superheroes to turn to. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?”

Watch the trailer here, in case you haven’t seen it already…

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There’s also the TV spot that aired during the Super Bowl, which has a lot of different footage, and helps put some more of this stuff in perspective…

Now, there’s a lot going on here, and some of it may seem a little tough to follow if you haven’t at least seen Man of Steel, let alone whether or not you’re familiar with Ben Affleck’s Batman or the fact that he and Barry Allen have a kind of superheroic mentor/mentee relationship (which you need to have seen one of the versions of Justice League to understand). But really, Batman is the star of this trailer, in particular, Michael Keaton’s Batman, and there’s some fun stuff to unpack here.

What the hell is going on?

The main thing you need to understand is that this movie is loosely based on the Flashpoint comic by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, in which Barry Allen traveled back in time to prevent his mother’s murder at the hand of a mysterious super-powered killer (which Barry’s father wrongfully went to prison for). He successfully stops the murder, but in the process, drastically changes the timeline and ends up in a world he doesn’t fully recognize.

In the case of The Flash movie, it would appear that Barry’s messing with the timeline prevents (among other things) the emergence of Superman as we see in Man of Steel (more on that in a minute), but it also seems to have tweaked other things, as well. But let’s start with what we know, in the “main” timeline of the DCEU where this movie begins…

Ben Affleck is back as Batman!

Not only is Affleck back, giving fatherly advice to Barry to not screw with the timeline, he’s rocking an extremely cool looking blue-and-grey batsuit! At least we know for sure these scenes take place in the main timeline, but then something happens and…

Michael Keaton is…also back as Batman!

We don’t have to tell anyone that Michael Keaton appears to be playing an older version of his Dark Knight from 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns. But it’s not really made explicit that the scenes with Barry, an alternate universe Barry (again, more on that in a minute), and Keaton’s Batman necessarily take place on the world of Batman ’89. Instead, it just appears that Barry has either found a version of reality where his mother survived, but the upshot is there’s no Superman to defend against Zod’s invasion, and other things, such as Batman, have also shifted. There’s even the possibility that Keaton isn’t playing Bruce Wayne at all, but instead an alternate version of Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, who in the alternate timeline created by the events of Flashpoint in the comics, survived the shooting in Crime Alley, and instead spent the rest of his days devoted to avenging the death of his son.

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Whatever the case, Keaton’s Batman has seemingly been out of commission for a while (we see glimpses of a bloodied batsuit and a long, grey-haired Wayne opening a secret passageway. While his main suit does indeed look like an updated version of the Batman ’89 costume, we get a glimpse of some of his others…

the assorted Batman costumes in The Flash movie trailer

A couple of notable ones here: note that the one on the far left has two gun holsters, which indicate that it could be drawing a little comics inspiration from the no-longer-canon Batman: Year Two comics story. The bat-logo on it looks like a slightly stylized version of that from the 1966 Batman TV series, which might indicate it’s from early in this Batman’s career. But it’s also worth pointing out that the Thomas Wayne version of Batman wasn’t averse to carrying a pair of 45s. Or maybe it’s just a tribute to key Batman inspiration, The Shadow, who certainly never shared the Dark Knight’s aversion to firearms, and routinely blasted baddies into the hereafter with a pair of automatics. There’s also one with a comics-accurate blue-and-grey color scheme, which hopefully we’ll get when the new DCU Batman and Robin movie, The Brave and the Bold, hits in a few years. But I digress…

Why are there two Barry Allens?

Who is this apparently un-superheroic version of Barry Allen tagging along for the ride? Is this merely the Barry of a version of the timeline where Nora Allen wasn’t murdered, Henry Allen didn’t go to prison, and Barry lived a normal, un-powered life? It would seem so (and it also appears that he’s a bit younger than “prime” Barry, possibly still living at home, having a teenage-style bedroom and longer hair), which might indicate that this timeline is actually chronologically set in 2013, which would line up with the Man of Steel imagery and General Zod stuff in the trailer. But there’s another, creepier possibility…

Is Reverse-Flash The Secret Villain of The Flash movie?

The fact that when we first meet this Barry he’s wearing a yellow hoodie and headphones does call to mind key Flash rogue, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash. I wrote about this in more detail here back in 2021 when the first footage from this movie hit, but the short version is: what if this isn’t an alternate Barry at all, but rather Thawne in disguise?

It also appears that neither Barry has their speed powers for a chunk of the movie. In the case of the “second” Barry (let’s set aside the Thawne theory for the moment), it’s because he wouldn’t have them yet at this point in the timeline, anyway. But in the case of “prime” Barry, well, in the Flashpoint comics, one of the side effects of his altering the timeline was the loss of his powers, powers which are only restored via a painful lightning harnessing trick with Batman’s help (which we also seem to glimpse in the trailer).

Why is General Zod back?

We hear Barry say something to the effect that his actions created a world without metahumans. And since in the DCEU (which this movie is still part of) didn’t really go “public” with metahuman activity until the events of Man of Steel (and funny enough, The Flash will be released right around that movie’s 10th anniversary), then it would make sense for that to be the point where things first really start to diverge noticeably how things are supposed to go. If Clark Kent doesn’t emerge from his low-key lifestyle to fight off Zod and his Kryptonian army, then Zod wins, and that’s the end of Earth.

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But fortunately, there’s another Kryptonian…

Who is Supergirl?

Early speculation that Sasha Calle might be playing a version of Supergirl who isn’t Kara Zor-El can now be tossed, as she clearly introduces herself as “Kara.” Her origin story here is taking inspiration from the Flashpoint comics once again, where it appears that wherever she was found after arriving on Earth, she was taken prisoner and kept out of the power-nourishing yellow sunlight for her entire life…until she’s freed and powers up. Just note that in the comics, this story was Superman’s, not Supergirl’s, but this looks like it’s following those beats pretty closely. But that does raise one pretty interesting possibility…

…does this mean that Kara has also been on Earth in the “main” DCEU this entire time, just in captivity, and nobody has ever found her? While at the moment it doesn’t look like any of the prime DCEU timeline will continue after Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom makes its box office bow in December (although, again, Gunn and Safran have been pretty vague/cagey about all of that), it’s easy to see how this movie finishes with a new DC timeline in which Kara did not spend most of her life in captivity, but has still been here all along. Will she be the version we see in the Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow movie coming out circa 2027? That, like everything else, remains to be seen.

There’s one shot of Supergirl carrying a seemingly lifeless body up into the clouds during a storm. If I had to bet, that’s “our” Barry and she’s trying to help jumpstart his speed powers, as he clearly doesn’t seem to be powered during the scenes where he and Batman are trying to break Supergirl out of captivity.

Basically, considering that we got about four minutes of footage out of these two teasers, we still don’t have this movie quite figured out yet. But hopefully this helped!

What are your theories on The Flash movie? Let us know in the comments!

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